Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ESPN Gets Duped

This should have been a great day for sports radio, what with the Cardinals colossal collapse happening right before our eyes. Then somebody cried wolf yet again, and as always, the worldwide leader in sports has to hang on every single move this guy makes before they can maybe think about getting to the idea of maybe reporting sports news for once.

Seriously, did anyone in their right minds REALLY believe this guy tried to kill himself? Thank God for Michael Wilbon, who most know as Tony Kornhiser's better half of PTI but still writes a great column for The Washington Post, to finally get on ESPN Radio during Dan Patrick's show and admit that his first reaction when he heard the news was "I don't believe him."

For almost six hours, sports radio -- and ESPN in particular -- covered this story like the assasination of a president. I don't blame the entire media for blowing the whole thing out of proportion. No, I'm staring directly at ESPN. They're the ones that kept putting Sal Paolantonio and Ed Werder in Owens' back pocket, covering and giving the guy all the attention he so craved. ESPN turned someone who's probably not even one of the top 5 wide receivers in his sport into some fascination that nobody gave a damn about.

Not even Bill Simmons, who was all set up for one of his marathon chats at 11am CST, was in good spirits. "We're not going to be posting any jokey/offensive questions about (TO), especially when we don't know all the facts yet" is how he started his chat. By the end, he was actually keeping a RUNNING DIARY of the Owens press conference.

"Can I make T.O. jokes now?" a poster asked Simmons after the press conference.

"Yes! Everything's fair game."

I almost expected somebody from the Howard Stern show to come out and let us all in on the joke.

What a waste of coverage. Didn't anyone have a clue when they saw this clown walking out of a hospital, looking completely fine after the alleged suicide attempt? The idea of somebody asking Tuna if his receiver would play on Sunday -- did they maybe think that it was OK to talk about something else?

Why anyone should expect better from ESPN in particular is beyond me. The next time they want to report on this circus act on a day other than Sunday, they better have two reliable sources who find the corpse first.

Oh, and by the way, and NFL player on pain pills? Taking too many? Wow, sounds like breaking news.

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